Governor Holcomb Signs Bill Requiring Proper Preservation of Evidence
New law will enable justice for the innocent in Indiana
03.16.22 By Innocence Staff
(Indianapolis, IN — March 16, 2022) Yesterday, Governor Holcomb signed SB 263, a bill designed to ensure biological crime scene evidence is properly retained. The new law, which was authored by Rep. Steuerwald (R-District 40) in the House and led by Senators Doriot (R-District 12) and Koch (R-District 44) in the Senate, is a key step in revealing wrongful convictions and solving cold cases in the Hoosier state.
The proper collection, preservation, and storage of physical evidence from a crime scene is imperative when it comes to prosecuting and defending criminal cases. The major advances in technology over the past decades — including the collection of trace amounts of DNA and forensic genealogy — have revolutionized the use of biological evidence in a way that allows investigators to solve cold cases, detect the guilty, and exonerate the innocent.
“I am grateful to the Governor and my colleagues for helping to pass this critical legislation,” said Rep. Steuerwald. “By requiring the proper preservation of evidence, this bill will ensure that justice is served to victims of crimes and the wrongfully convicted, while preserving due process and maintaining the public’s trust in the integrity of the criminal justice system.”
The Innocence Project has exonerated 194 people based on DNA evidence to date, none of which would have been possible if biological evidence was not available to test. If this evidence had been destroyed, tainted, contaminated, mislabeled, or otherwise corrupted, we never would have discovered the innocence of these wrongfully convicted people. Indeed, out of these 194 exonerations, 84 true perpetrators of the crimes were subsequently detected. While innocent individuals spent years behind bars for crimes they did not commit, 99 additional crimes were committed including 54 sexual assaults, 22 murders, and 23 other violent crimes.